Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy : [07.04] Non-violence and Equality

Published: 05.09.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015

Chapter 7

The Relevance Of The Jaina Religion To Modern Problems

s soon as man begins to look at the world through the perspective of ahimsa, equality of all souls, which is generally veiled, is perceived.

Gautama asked Bhagavan Mahavira,

"Lord! Are the souls of an elephant and a tiny insect equal.”

Bhagavan Mahavira replied,

"Yes, Gautama! The souls of an elephant and a tiny insect are equal. The body of an elephant is huge and that of an insect tiny. The difference in the size of t heir bodies does not affect the equality of souls. One who confuses the innate equalities of the souls with their external differences such as bodies, sense organs, colour and form, caste etc. cannot be a votary of non-violence. A non-violent man is he who finds all souls to be equal in spite of external differences."

One who does not conceive the innate equality of all the souls presumes oneself to be superior to others and others as inferior to oneself or vice versa. He either hates others or thinks himself to be hated by others. He either intimidates others or feels himself being intimidated by others. These complexities of inferiority and superiority create inequality. Where there is inequality, people resort to violence. The principle of equality does not disturb social behaviour. On the contrary, it makes social life smooth and correct. In day- to-day life the more the behaviour is permeated with equality, the more the love is engendered. Love, in its turn, makes social organization run smoothly and reduces violence. We lose sight of the equality of all souls under the pressure of passing situations and the confusion created by externalities. Lack of self-control creates an inegalitarian mentality.

Bhagavan Mahavira said,

"O man, you have been passing through the cycle of births from eternity in the course of which you have had relations of mother, father, son or brother etc. with each living being Then, whom will you treat as a friend or foe, higher or lower, beloved or despicable? You have not been born only now; hence do not adopt a shortsighted view of things from a timeless perspective. Your soul is eternal and therefore you should try to experience the relationship between all souls. Try to control your mind by practising concentration. By doing so, you will attain equality at all levels -of principle, nature and mind. Once you attain equality, you will master ahimsa. Where there is equality, there is non-violence. Both are proportional to each other."

Equality means equanimity, which excludes love and hatred, attachment and aversion, inclination and disinclination. The behaviour of an individual, whose conscience is entrenched in equality or equanimity does not smack of preferential treatment. So also the set-up of a society based on egalitarianism is free from all sorts of discriminations.

Bhagavan Mahavira said,

"Nobody likes suffering. Therefore don't inflict suffering to anybody. This is non-violence this is equality. It is enough for you to understand this. To understand non-violence in order to understand equality and vice versa is the summum bonum of all know ledge."

Sources
Title: Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy
Translated & Edited: Muni Mahendra Kumar
Language:

English

Edition 1995
Publisher: Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun, India

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahimsa
  2. Body
  3. Concentration
  4. Equanimity
  5. Gautama
  6. JAINA
  7. Jaina
  8. Mahavira
  9. Non-violence
  10. Soul
  11. Violence
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